The Iowa City school district, forced with trimming $5.2 million from next year’s budget, is putting all options on the table, including the radical idea of cutting athletic director positions.

"Sports are important, but it's not off the table," said Phil Hemingway, the school board member who suggested cutting athletic director positions.  

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports Hemingway's proposal was not met with a warm reception. However, the district is faced with cutting roughly 75 full-time positions. At present, officials are looking at not filling positions being vacated by retiring staff. To do this, they're looking to change the way teachers are distributed across campuses, shaving 19 positions next year. Two administrative positions are set to be axed, while 16 full-time dropout-prevention positions will remain vacant.

Officials say inadequate state funding over the years is to blame for the hard choices the board is being faced with. Superintendent Steve Murley has described the budget process as "making the best worst decisions."

Board members balked at the idea of cutting athletic director positions given their many duties, including vetting coaches, ensuring programs are in compliance with state rules, managing schedules and helping manage the finances associated with athletics.

"We've had this discussion a few times, Phil," said board member Paul Roestler. "I just don't understand how you think one person can run three high school athletic programs."

"It's one district program," Hemingway responded. "With a secretary at each school."

"I understand that, but I don't think you understand the job that they do," Roestler said. "I just don't. I really don't. I don't understand how you think that."

Hemingway contends that the cutting athletic directors needs to be carefully considered given the number of other positions that will be nixed next year.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.